To provide children in foster care with enriching outdoor adventures, invaluable mentorships, and a year round community, where youth are provided opportunities to develop leadership skills and prepare for life after foster care. Happy Trails for Kids believes that fostering continuity and belonging is the first step in combating the challenges of foster care and promoting success.
Nearly one hundred times a day, a child in California is placed in foster care because of severe abuse or neglect. In Los Angeles County alone, there are over 30,000 boys and girls in the foster care system.
Although the child welfare system is built to protect youth, too often these children are exposed to additional trauma once placed in foster care. They are separated from siblings, relatives and friends. Frequently moved from home to home, they encounter a stream of new caretakers, schools, therapists and peers.
Not surprisingly, without stability and proper support, foster children face an exceptionally high risk of unemployment, homelessness and incarceration as adults. More than 50% do not graduate from high school and only 3% will earn a college degree.
To combat these statistics, Happy Trails for Kids provides overnight camp experiences, year-round educational, cultural and social workshops and activities and older youth programming that help our campers prepare for life after foster care. In addition, many of our staff members have successfully emerged from the foster care system, serving as outstanding role models and lifelong mentors for the boys and girls we serve.
Happy Trails for Kids imparts meaningful stability and a strong sense of community for the children we serve. We infuse fragile young lives with laughter, happy memories and new experiences- that both broaden, and brighten the lives of our program participants. We teach children that in spite of their circumstances, they have a circle of support surrounding them and hope for a better future.
Our Success Stories
“Everything about Happy Trails is special to me because I’ve had the chance to meet other kids in foster care, make new friends and do things I might never get to do because they’re not available to everybody, like swimming and canoeing.”
- Charlie, Camper, Age 12
"Happy Trails for Kids is a safe haven for foster youth. Every year we see new and returning campers excited to be in a place where they can truly be themselves. No one will be judged because they do not live with their parents, but loved because they have loving spirits."
- Jasmine, Counselor & Former Foster Youth
“Happy Trails is a really good place for kids to be because it’s a lot of fun. It’s a good place for all the kids having a hard life and struggling and things like that. Happy Trails bring joys to kids’ hearts and makes their lives a little bit easier."
- Kevin, Camper, Age 10
“I like Happy Trails a lot and I like going camping a lot. Swimming in the pool and hiking were the most fun things. The counselors were nice and they get along with the kids with a lot. I made good friends - they were so happy and they were never mad! I think everyone who went to camp would want to go back again.”
- Kelsey, Camper, Age 9